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Asunto: Historia Antigua de América del Norte (with bibliogr aphy)
Fecha:Sabado, 5 de Abril, 2003  12:27:35 (+0200)
Autor:david sanchez <davius_sanctex>

The Migration Theory

The world-wide picture of human evolution suggests that humans achieved their present form of development, homo sapiens sapiens, approximately 50,000 BP, during the upper pleistocene period. This was the last great period of glaciation so the birth of human life, as we know it, is associated with the profound world-wide changes in flora and fauna that accompanied great cycles of weather, including such extremes of cold that large portions of the world's water resources were deposited in massive continental glacier systems that caused significant lowering of the ocean levels. This was the age of huge mammals, like the woolly mammoth, so we can assume that humans adapted their lifeways to big-game hunting and were essentially nomadic, following the big mammals through their food-gathering ranges.

Here, then, is the archaeologist's story of how the Americas were settled. With homo sapiens sapiens well developed throughout the Old World and the heaviest periods of glaciation at hand, there was a significant opportunity for early humans to migrate into North America across a land bridge (Beringia) between Siberia and Alaska and created by the decline in ocean surfaces. The continents are, in fact, connected in a single continental plate beneath the Bering and Chukchi Seas. The majority of archaeologists theorize that both big game animals and small bands of hunter-gatherer people, who were dependent upon them, migrated across Beringia during the periods of greatest glaciation; however, geological evidence is not sufficient to offer exact time periods for these migrations. What we know from geological evidence is that the last great period of glaciation, named the Wisconsin Period, was at its height around 18,000 BP and that the ocean level should have dropped enough, during this time, to expose most of the continental shelf lying between Alaska and Siberia. It also seems clear that glaciation had subsided sufficiently by 12,000 BP to raise ocean levels to the point of submerging Beringia for the last time in recent history. The passage of plant, animal, and human life across this Arctic plain may have been possible for a total of 12,000 years. The people migrating into North America around 15,000 BP would be the products of up to 35,000 years of evolution of our own species, homo sapiens sapiens; in other words, they were truly modern human beings. Presumably they would be racially differentiated from humans dispersed in other parts of the world and, in this, would be racially associated most closely with Asian people, especially those of Northeastern Asia. [It is interesting to note, in passing, that dental comparisons between Asian and Native American subjects demonstrate substantial differences. Thus, if Native Americans were derived from Asian stock, they were isolated in the Americas for a long enough time to acquire racial characteristics of their own. ]

It would be quite unrealistic to imagine this "migration" as an extensive emigration of people conciously leaving Siberia for the New World. Nor is the name "land bridge" particularly helpful since the exposed continental shelf was larger than either the tip of Siberia or Alaska in their present forms. It is much more realistic to picture the fact that, for periods of time during the upper pleistocene, the two continents were truly united and that plants, animals, and humans were free to extend their habitation throughout. A period of several thousand years of exposure of Beringia would have included hundreds of generations of human families, and each of these could easily have extended the eastern boundary of its habitation region by some amount. For example, if each generation extended its habitation range by 25 miles to the east, a very modest distance for nomadic people, one hundred generations would have moved the eastern boundary of its people 2,500 miles eastward and well across the so-called land bridge. One hundred generations is probably 1,500 years. Clearly, in 15,000 years it would be entirely possible for people to reach the southern most tip of South America, merely by following the same modest process of generational movement. The presence of the land bridge would not have been required throughout the period of dispersal and colonization of the rest of America.

While the presence of Beringia during the Wisconsin epoche is the only appropriate opportunity for relatively modern human migration by land, it does little to answer questions about the distribution of humans throughout the New World. One major problem in theory construction comes from the very cause of the land bridge itself, the weather. Since the land bridge resulted from incredible periods of cold and consequent buildup of massive continental glaciers, how was it possible for humans to survive? What resources could have been available in Alaska for food and protection? What routes southward, in Alaska and Canada, would have allowed for expansion of habitats? During the Wisconsin Period, there were two major glaciers in North America, the Laurentide and the Cordilleran. The former covered almost all of Canada, from east to west; the latter descended to the east from the Continental Divide in the Canadian Rockies. The fact that these glacial systems met and blocked passage from north-to-south is well documented. What is less clear is when the passage was blocked and when it was free; evidence seems to indicate that the period witnessed occasional glacial recession as well as glacial advances. Then, too, there is the interesting possibility that large areas of coastal plains were available as habitat, especially to people who might already possess small watercraft and be well adapted to exploiting foods from seashore environments. But if this habitation area provided a significant means of expansion to the south along the Pacific Coast, it is now very difficult to document since it has been submerged for millenia. (Dixon, 1993; Chartkoff and Chartkoff, 1984)

The oldest scientifically accepted sites of early human habitation have all been found in the Southwest and are all dated from 10,000 to 11,500 BP. Since all of these shared a common combination of tools and associations with the flora and fauna of the time, they are characterized as the Llano complex. The principal feature of recognition is the fluted projectile points found at Clovis (11,500 - 11,000 BP) and at Folsom (11,000 - 10,000 BP). (Dixon, 1993; 16) The theoretical implication of the Llano complex is that humans did not arrive in the Southwest until 11,500 BP even if they had migrated across Beringia into Alaska at a prior time; but the feature of greatest theoretical importance is the fact that the distinctive fluted points of the Llano Complex are found only in the Americas and not in the Old World. They represent a New World technology.

Since the prevailing picture, aided by the discovery of sites east of the Canadian Rockies in the path between the two glaciers, is that of settlement southward through Canada and into the Great Plains to the Llano Complex, the settlement of California is pictured as a western expansion of Llano cultures into the southern deserts of the state and, eventually, to the Southern California coast, especially San Diego County. All of this seems consistent with a belated opening of a north-south passage between the Canadian glaciers and a gradual expansion of Paleoindian habitation radiating out of the Southwest. If early humans were able to make their way along the Pacific Coast and into Northern California, we have no evidence of this in the form of documented archaeological sites pre-dating those of the Southwest. (Chartkoff and Chartkoff, 1984; ch. 2)

What migration theorists would love to be in the position to show is a sequence of habitation sites spreading from Alaska through Canada into the remainder of the American continents with the earliest dates in Alaska and the latest dates farthest away from Beringia. Unfortunately, nothing of the kind is available; instead, the last three decades of extensive archaeological research have yielded a confusion of information that begins to cast doubt on the land bridge migration thesis itself. In particular, documented Paleoindian sites with fluted projectile points and association with large-game animals have now been recognized throughout North America, especially Alaska, western Canada, and the Southwest; however, all of these sites are dated within the same timeframe, centering around 11,000 BP. Of particular importance is the fact that fluted projectile points are not found in Siberia so there is no evidence of them being carried into North America. But if fluted-point technology developed in North America, there is an issue regarding the time needed for such an important technological change and, lacking any real direction in Paleoindian dates, north and south, it is just as likely that fluted points developed in the Southwest and moved northward, following dwindling Mammoth populations, as it is that they were carried southward by immigrants. (Dixon, 1993)

With development of the land-bridge migration theory somewhat stalled by these factors, one must turn to the other archaeological evidence being accumulated even though many of the sites remain subjects of controversy. Doing this uncovers startling results. There are American sites claimed to be as old as 30,000 BP to 50,000 BP. Such early dates place human habitation outside of the availability of land migration from the Old World and also place New World humans much closer to the early formation of homo sapiens sapiens and offer a longer period of racial differentiation independent from the people of Asia.

Racial differentiation occurs because of the divergence of characteristics within the species, when different populations of the species have been isolated from each other for a long enough time. As an adaptive mechanism, evolutionary change has continued all along; and it has produced quite diverse "approaches" to our single species. The further humans expanded their habitation throughout the world the more they isolated themselves from each other and the more they subjected their represententatives to new environmental challenges. This set them onto slightly different evolutionary tracks. Since Native Americans exhibit significant differences from Asians, this indicates that genetic communication between Native Americans and Asians was cut off early enough in time to allow for racial differentiation. But what is a "long enough time" to explain the racial differences between Native Americans and other races? Assuming that racial differentiation must take a very long time, tends to support theories suggesting early migration by alternative routes. Evidence for this argument may come, in time, from studies of dentition and DNA.

Let us look, briefly, at what can be said in defense of other migration theories. If controversies were resolved, what would become the accepted times of human habitation in the American continents? An interesting case is the so-called Calico Early Man site, in the Mojave Desert, east of Barstow. The site was visited by Louis Leakey, in the early 1970s, and funded by the National Geographic Society, along with the San Bernardino County Historical Society. Leakey confirmed that various objects being excavated at the site bore a strong resemblance to tools fashioned by Early Man in African sites that he had investigated. Site archaeologists even excavated what they claimed to be a fire pit which enabled carbon dating and revealed an age of 50,000 BP, an astonishing date when one considers the evolutionary timetable! However, it is very doubtful that this site will ever be accepted by the scientific community unless there are dramatic new finds. The problem is that Leakey's African sites involved association with habitation and animal bones; Calico has never yielded bones of any kind or any other organic material that could be dated accurately. Its critics argue that virtually all of the fractures and flaking on the so-called tools could have been caused by natural geological processes such as stream erosion; they are probably geofacts rather than artifacts.

Nevertheless, there are very exciting finds in South America that appear to be very old and for which the evidence is judged more scientifically credible. The first of these is at Monte Verde, in south-central Chile. It was a long-term habitation site, on the banks of a small creek, and archaeologists recovered substantial remains of dwellings, including wooden frames and animal skins, probably used for coverings. The site had good geological integrity; offered excellent materials for accurate dating; and dated between 12,500 BP and 13,000 BP. Furthermore, at a geologically lower level, somewhat removed horizontally, the researchers had found another habitation area with two radio-carbon dates of 33,000 BP. This information can be compared to a site in Brazil, Pedra Furada, a long-term rock-art site. Pedra Furada divides into six different levels of occupation and dates run from 6,000 BP to 32,000 BP. At the oldest level, they found artifacts that are similar in mature to those found at Monte Verde. (Dixon, 1993; ch. 8)

One possible theoretical explanation of these old sites would be that South America was actually discovered and settled earliest of all and that migration into North America came from the south. This would explain the odd first appearance of Paleoindians in the Southwest, and the gradual receding of glaciers and dwindling of mammoth populations would explain the migration of Paleoindian hunters northward through Canada and into Alaska, where mammoths finally became extinct. It would be consistent with the lack of fluted projectile points on the west side of Beringia. Meanwhile, archaeological research in Alaska has demonstrated the occurence of at least two other traditions, the Nenana Complex and the Paleoarctic Tradition. The Nenana Complex appears to be a technologically primitive culture dating around 11,000 BP and sharing the technologies of Northeast Asia for the comparable time period. The Paleoarctic Tradition appears to be an extension of the same Pacific Rim marine-oriented culture found throughout the far northern Pacific and dating somewhat later. Both show significant evidence of arising out of Siberia through their common technological features and apparent lifeways. Consequently, both could represent the only late pleistocene people to cross Beringia and establish habitation in the New World by that route, leaving the major focus of New World settlement in South America and much earlier. (Dixon, 1993; ch. 10)

If early humans did migrate into South America, however, there remains a huge question of how they achieved this. There was certainly no land bridge into South America at any time and ocean crossings would seem to have been prohibited. What this theory must look to, in order to gain support, is the settlement of Australia and the various islands of the South Pacific. The archaeology of this region is actually encouraging. Australian sites are well documented to 40,000 BP in age; and it has also been demonstrated that most of the western islands, lying within a common continental shelf zone, were inhabited soon thereafter. Few of these were ever connected by land, the continental shelf here being too deep; thus, this region, settled 10,000 years earlier than South America, had to have been settled by watercraft passage. Is it too much to ask that others could have made the journey all the way to South America in enough numbers, over a 10,000 year period, to give homo sapiens sapiens a foothold in the New World? Obviously, many other factors will eventually have to be brought into this argument.


There is no disagreement, now, that people inhabited large portions of both North and South America around 12,000 BP and many sites have been discovered in the Southwest. Some sites have been found in California, primarily in the deserts of Southern California and in San Diego County but also in the Central Valley and along the Northern Coast. We refer to these late pleistocene people as Paleoindians. Paleoindian culture in the New World was not dramatically different from paleolithic culture anywhere in the world. People lived in small nomadic hunting bands and pursued big game animals (mammoths, bears, bison, rhinos, etc.). Their tools were very crude so their hunts must have depended upon a high level of cooperation combined with the good fortune of surprising animals in vulnerable positions (at watering places, in close quarters, etc.). As one can imagine it, hunting big game animals with snares, nets, and spears must have been a life-threatening experience at best; angry, wounded animals could easily injure or kill Paleoindian hunters. Since the large animals needed to forage widely to feed their appetites and since other resources needed by humans themselves were not plentiful in typical desert playa locales, long periods of residence were never possible; animals and people, both, followed a nomadic way of life.

One may ask why the fluted projectile point developed when it did in the Southwest. Speculation is that Paleoindians began to witness the disappearance of big game animals. By 11,000 BP the world's climate was changing rapidly. As the glaciers receded, the salty desert lakes, fed by runoff from neighboring mountains, became more extensive. In turn, the desert lakes gave way to grasslands, and the grasslands ultimately gave way to forests. Climatic conditions became considerably more mild, and the big game animals were gradually replaced by smaller and more agile mammals (big-horn sheep, antilope, deer, etc.). The finely worked fluted points were clearly designed for spearing faster moving smaller game animals; they utilized a distinctive fluting shape along the sides, passing from the heal toward the sharp head and allowing firm fixture in a wooden shaft. These points were undoubtedly mounted on spears that were thrown from a light hand-held launching device called an atlatl. The whole device delivered greater range, accuracy, and striking power. Fluted points have been found all over North America, including Alaska and western Canada, and typify the late Paleoindian period of development. (Chartkoff and Chartkoff, 1984; Dixon, 1993)

Because the period immmediately following the pleistocene was mild and damp, there were many large shallow lakes and these became gathering grounds for all animals, including Paleoindians. Today, these locales are almost always in desert locations and only the trained eye, surveying the edges of a hot, sandy basin can make out the distinctive signs of old shorelines and beaches. Paleoindian sites are found at such locations, but they are sparce, as archaeological sites go. Paleoindians did not remain in an area for a long time. Consequently, there are no remains of permanent housing. If a site was occupied for longer than normal, foot traffic may have compacted the ground; garbage may have accumulated in some spot; urine may have left organic materials in the sand; and debris may be present from occasional tool making. Occupation sites like this have been found at Borax Lake (near Clear Lake), Tulare Lake, Owens Lake, and China Lake. The sparce evidence is, in itself, an indicator of Paleoindian occupation; but discovery of fluted projectile points is a clear demonstration. Fluted points have been found in at least twenty sites throughout California, but especially in those mentioned above. (Chartkoff&Chartkoff; 50-61)

Between Owens Lake and China Lake, in the Coso Mountains, is one of the finest concentrations of petroglyphs in the state. Many of these must date from the Paleoindian and early Archaic periods since the region is hot, dry desert today. Big horn sheep, lizards, shamanic figures, atlatls, bows and arrows (from much later), and many other figures are pecked into rock surfaces, leaving clear indications of concentrated human activity in these areas.

The Archaic Period

Joseph and Kerry Chartkoff's recent book, Archaeology of California, introduces a three-level outline of human development in California which includes the Paleoindian Period (down to 11,000 BP), the Archaic Period (11,000 to 4,000 BP), and the Pacific Period (4,000 BP to the time of European interruption). The Archaic Period in California corresponds in basic ways to the mesolithic period of cultures around the world. This was a period of adaptation to the new climatic conditions of the holocene. With the disappearance of big game animals and the necessity of finding new ways to hunt and gather food, people turned away from an essentially nomadic way of life and developed a more diffuse economy, greatly expanding the number of game animals that they sought and utilizing new plants and seeds. As they learned more about the ecological niches that were developing around them, they adapted their lives to a strategy of "annual rounds;" far from nomadic wandering, these treks allowed them to arrive in specific locations, annually, to take advantage of the seasons in which animals, fish, plants, or seeds could be harvested and utilized. This was a much more complex relationship with the natural environment and it depended upon an extensive collective memory of available resources and methods of utilization as well as a collective plan that put a group of people in position to harvest foods and materials when they would be available. Since this more effective planning and more extensive knowledge guaranteed a better food supply and more resources --- natural disasters always being a problem, of course --- the Archaic Period witnessed population building and gradual development of more sophisticated technologies for hunting, fishing, and domestic utilities. Tools came to be differentiated in use, as opposed to the universal application of a small number of cruder tools in previous periods. Milling stones came to be used and indicate the horizon of utilizing nuts and seeds extensively. Basket making and better housing also evolved throughout this period. In particular, while Archaic groups made an "annual round," they usually returned to the same locality, for the winter months, and developed more substantial housing in this location for their winter residence.

Throughout the Archaic Period, people moved into all of the available ecological niches of the state and developed their annual rounds accordingly. These regions included tremendous variety --- large areas of chaparral, coastal zones, valley parklands, oak-pine transitions regions of the foothills, mountainous conifer forests, lakes, and great river valleys. Such variety required cultural differentiation, at least in its formative stages. Furthermore, the Archaic Period was by no means uniform through time. It is a period of 7,000 years which witnessed large fluctuations in climate, rising sea levels, and changes in vegetation patterns. It is typically divided up into three eras, each about 2,000 years in length --- called the Early, Middle, and Late Archaic. While people of the Paleoindian Period seem to have lived in a single common pattern, people of the Archaic Period lived in diverse patterns depending upon both place and time.

Archaic sites are found throughout California and are differentiated into time periods and place traditions. Two locally related traditions of interest are the San Dieguito and the Encinitas Traditions. The San Dieguito Tradition belongs to the Early Archaic and was first described as a result of excavations along the San Dieguito River which runs south of Rancho Santa Fe and flows into the Pacific just north of Del Mar, in San Diego County. Similar sites are found throughout the chaparral regions of Southern California, and they belong to a timeframe from 10,000 BP to 8,000 BP. What makes these sites different from Paleoindian sites? Not a great deal; however, the differences are telling. San Dieguito people seem to have begun a primitive seasonal round which went back-and-forth from the coastal region into the mountains. Being more often in the same locations, they deposited more debris and this allows us to know more about them. Clearly, they were no longer eating big game animals, for their diet now indicates deer, rabbits, and plants of the chaparral region. While their stone tools were relatively crude compared with later styles, they did show differentiation into special patterns for new uses. Also, by the end of the tradition, bone awls are found which tend to confirm that basket weaving had begun.

Growing out of the San Dieguito Tradition, the Encinitas Tradition demonstrates a much stronger development of typical archaic life. The core of the tradition is again in San Diego County but it spreads out along the Pacific Coast and is found from La Jolla north to Topanga Canyon and beyond, past Santa Barbara. As it spreads along the coast, it pulls back from the chaparral-laiden inland mountains. The reason for this is a much greater utilization of seashore resources. Encinitas sites have large shell mounds which also reveal bones of sea mammals (but not bones of fish). The Encinitas people have passed the so-called "millstone horizon;" that is, they have discovered how to crack and grind (or pulverize) nuts and seeds to create flour meals. This is demonstrated by the presence of grinding stones as well as archaeobotanic debris. Tools continue to be refined in manufacture and in diversity throughout this period. The seasonal round of these people ranges over a smaller territory and takes better advantage of more localized resources. The Encinitas Tradition is a gradual development of Archaic life right up to the transition into the Pacific Period. They were the immediate predicessors to the tribes of the Southern California Coast. Throughout this period, because of growing effectiveness in providing foods and other essentials, populations grew. Because of increased wear and tear on the environment, sites are easier to detect . But, more interesting yet, archaeologists find an increasing number of non-utilitarian objects associated with these sites. It would seem, reasonably, that greater population densities and greater day-to-day security promoted rising social traditions that can be seen in the appearance of burial rites and personal ornamentation.

While the vast majority of the world continued along similar paths of development, this is the period in which significant divergence began in the Middle East. The beginning of California's Archaic Period is parallel to incipient agriculture in the so-called Fertile Crescent. Agriculture and the domestication of animals required a sedentary lifeway, directed attention toward housing, and established land-holding as a form of wealth and security. By the end of California's Archaic Period (4000 BP) neolithic culture had swept throughout the entire Mediterranean Basin and most of Northern Europe. In addition, copper working had spread from the Middle East and into much of Eastern Europe and Southern Asia. The valleys of the Indus, the Tigris/Euphrates, and the Nile had all developed the beginnings of literacy in the form of pictograms, glyphs, and hieroglyphs; mining of copper and precious metals was extensive. Incidentally, the "Ice Man" who was recently found in an Alpine glacier was a Copper Age person of Northern Europe 5000 years ago.

The Pacific Period

In California, the last 4000 years represents the fulfillment of cultural differentiation set in motion because of the tremendous variety of ecological zones available to the state's indigenous people. As people became increasingly knowledgeable about the resources available to them within their own localities, the annual rounds were largely abandoned in favor of a more sedentary style of life, with local resources being augmented occasionally by hunting or gathering parties. This sedentary life was made possible because staple food supplies were identified, seasonally harvested, processed, and stored for long-term use. While Californians continued to expand their utilization of diverse plants and animals, their concentration on a few staple items offered a secure food supply and, hence, the opportunity to develop other cultural characteristics. More sedentary larger communities developed more complex social patterns of economy, politics, and ritual life. This enabled development of a richer narrative history and sense of traditional wisdom. In some areas, it even led to systems of ownership and inheritance rights. Trade developed throughout the state and can be documented by the discovery of materials in sites far away from their natural origin. Shell beads of several kinds were accepted as "currency" in trade and also for payment of other debts or penalties.

The period around 4,000 BP must have been a time of immigration into the state as well. We have no real explanation of this, but it is indicated by the breakup of language families in the state. Of particular significance is the isolation of Hokan speaking people, found in numerous "islands" scattered around the state, and the fact that their further linguistic differentiation indicates separation around the time period 4,000 years ago. At any rate, major portions of California were evidently "filled in" by people who spoke common language stocks, Penutian in the central regions and Uto-Aztecan in the southern and eastern regions.

While Europeans first contacted what they would call "the New World" in 1492, 500 years ago, and while the Spanish violently interrupted Central American civilizations 460 years ago, California remained essentially unaffected until 1769, merely 225 years ago. Large portions of California escaped with only minimal intrusion until only 150 years ago.

European navigation across the oceans, beginning 600 years ago, is only one mark of the rapid acceleration and divergence of Middle Eastern, Asian, and European cultures. Through the first half of our Pacific Period copper working expanded into bronze working and, then, iron working. Alphabetical languages developed. In short, Western Civilization emerged as we know it --- including the development of Classic Greek culture, Hellenism, the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, Medievalism, and the Renaissance. Yet the emergence of technologically inventive and economically aggressive European society did not really begin until 600 years ago; and the Industrial Revolution did not begin until after early contacts with Native Americans, e.g., from 1760-80 onward.

It is interesting to realize that, long before European contact with the New World, similar developments had begun, though not in California. The development of maize (corn) from the native grass teosinte began in South and Central America approximately 5,000 years ago. At least 4,000 years ago, maize agriculture moved north along the Sierra Madre through northern Mexico and into the Southwest; and while evidence suggests that archaic Indians of the Southwest did not immediately become sedentary agriculturalists, the cultures (Basketmaker and Pueblo) developing 2,500 years ago and later clearly did. From the Southwest, agriculture moved outward toward California but primarily north and east, where the Woodland, Mississippi, and Moundbuilders all practiced maize agriculture for the last 1,500 years before European interference. The relatively long association with agriculture in Mexico and Central America led to the Teotihuacan. From 2,000 to 1,000 years ago, the Maya, Toltec, and Aztec civilizations of Central America and the Inca of South America had developed and were characterized by agriculture, metal working, social complexity, great civic buildings, and the beginnings of written (glyphic) languages. The Toltec, Aztec, and Incas, indeed, were still at their heights when invaded (literally) by the Spanish in the early 1500s. Portions of the New World had clearly moved in the direction of neolithic cultures. I have summarized features of this discussion in Table 1, at this chapter's end. (Agriculture hist ref)

Let us summarize some of the trends that appear through the periods of development from Paleo-Indian to Pacific Period. One of the features that we can see is in population and the organization of population. Archaeology reveals an ever increasing population density across these periods. The encampments that have been discovered reveal that population centers gradually expanded beyond simple family units to large extended families to true villages, perhaps much more obscurely bound by lineage. Indeed, the systems of lineage became increasingly complex throughout. And finally, simple hunter-gatherer organization began to differentiate into diverse skills, even specialization into tool makers, political chiefs, and spiritualists (shamans).

The utilization of plant and animal species throughout this period continued to increase; however, the modes of utilization passed through important changes. While Paleo-Indians were hunters of big game and gathered mainly a limited group of plants that were available in local niches, natives of the Archaic Period had advanced their knowledge of plants and animals sufficiently so that they could plan out an annual (or seasonal) round in which they harvested foods as seaons changed in diverse ecological regions. While Archaic people continued to move, they were no longer nomads, as such, but were, instead, knowledgeable "opportunists." In the Pacific Period, the diversification of plant/animal species utilization continued but a new kind of focus on a small number of staples provided the opportunity to live a sedentary style of life. Crucial to this development was the invention of techniques for large-scale harvesting, treatment for preservation, and protective storage. One "disappointment" is that California natives seem not to have developed agriculture as such, while agriculture had clearly become common in the Southwest and in the Woodlands and Mississippi cultures. However, one can point to certain activities such as periodic burning or pruning that clearly stand at the beginning of a neolithic mentality. Perhaps it is even the case that natives of the Northwest did engage in cultivation of tobacco. But the general situation in California does not seem to have forced natives toward agricultural economies.

Let us observe, finally, that the whole period presents a picture of gradually developing technology. As habitation proceeded from nomadic through seasonal to sedentary, the technologies of sheltering/housing changed and new forms of building developed. By the end of this period, since some people had committed themselves to life in areas with larger seasonal variations in weather, adaptations in clothing had to occur. The collection of tools also changed, largely indicating more specialization and more ability to maintain larger inventories of tools and equipment. Meanwhile, larger pieces of equipment (such as boats, nets, etc) were being utilized and maintained.

In conclusion and summary, what can we say about the settlement of California? Leaning on the most reliable archaeological and lingistic information, it would seem that California was settled by Paleolithic humans during the final stages of the Pleistocene and that most of these people had lived elsewhere in the New World for a long enough time to establish language families which they brought with them to California. The environmental plenty of California continued to attract settlement by people, especially out of the Southwest and the Great Basin, well into the Archaic Period at least. Thus, while some of the diversity of California cultures is due to their separate evolution and development in ecological niches, much is also due to the importation of cultural attributes that developed in widely diverse Western locales. What is by no means clear is where these cultures were "going." We do not see rapidly changing adaptive strategies in place; rather we see cultures that were profoundly oriented around organizational and educational principles of adoptive maintenance, understanding and adhering to the past, always keeping innovation under restraint. What, if anything, would have changed this situation? Even their own populations seem to have been in balance with their world.

Table 1. World Prehistory

Times in Years

Before Present

California Other American Old World



No substantiated human habitation No substantiated human habitation Gradual evolution from primitive hominids to emergence of homo sapiens sapiens



Some questionable evidence of the earliest habitations in California Periodic migrations across Beringia carry homo sapiens sapiens to this continent Homo sapiens sapiens increases its population and extends its distribution throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia



Significant Paleo-Indian activity especially in the desert and coastal regions of southeastern California Paleo-Indian Period of nomadic big-game hunters, culminating in technological changes (Clovis point) that may relate to climatic impact on game populations at the end of the Pleistocene Little apparent differentiation between traditions of the Old World and the New World



Increasing populations of Archaic people, spreading well into the state, establish patterns of "annual rounds" in the quest for food Archaic Period of adaptation to more diverse resources and invention of superior weapons and utensils (10,000) Incipient agriculture in the "Fertile Crescent" begins the transition from mesolithic to neolithic lifeways.
(4,000) Neolithic lifeway has spread throughout Mediterranean and Northern Europe; copper working has spread into Eastern Europe and South Asia; early forms of (glyphic) literacy have appeared in the valleys of the Indus, Tigris & Euphrates, and Nile.
4,000 to 500

The Pacific Period is marked by condensation into stable tribal groups and territories, withdrawal from annual rounds, larger population centers, more sedentary lifeways, and more efficient technologically facilitated utilization of a few staple resources. (2,500 - 2,000) Incipient agriculture in Central America and Eastern US, especially development of the Woodland lifeway, including the earliest Basketmaker people of the Southwest. (4,000 - 1,700) Metal working develops from copper to bronze to iron and spreads in concentric rings into Europe and Asia; alphabetical languages develop; Classic empires of Greece, Alexander, and Rome come and pass.
(2,000 - 1,000) A succession of increasingly rich cultures develop from Peru north to Colorado, including Incas, Mayas, Toltecas, Aztecs, and Anasazis. These are characterized by agriculture, great civic buildings, social complexity, some metal working, and incipient glyphic languages. The Mississippi lifeway develops in Southern US. (1700 - 700) Arab world flourishes in North Africa and Middle East while, in relative isolation, Europe slowly develops in areas of language, law, religion, and technology throughout the Medieval Period
1000 to 500 (1,000 - 500) Older Central and South American cultures disappear; Anasazi disappear and are replaced by modern pueblo people. (700 - 500) Having created sufficient instrumental means for navigation, Europeans begin to explore the world.



[1542] Cabrillo's expedition along the coast

[1579] Drake's expedition

[1602] Viscaino's expedition

[1769] First mission at San Diego followed by Portola and Crespi's land expeditions

[1776] Mission at San Francisco founded

[1810] First Spanish explorations north of Bay and first coastal exploration and settlement by Russian fur traders

[1822] Beginning of the Mexican period

[1846-50] American defeat of Mexican administrators and California statehood

[1870-80] Few Indians remain in natural habitat

[1492] Columbus lands in the West Indies

[1520-30] Spanish invasions of Central and South America

[1540] Early Spanish expeditions into Southwest

[1620-] English colonization of Eastern seaboard

[1620-] Early Spanish missions in Southwest

[1680] Pueblo Revolt against missionization

[1776] American Revolution

[1789] US Constitution and Washington's Presidency

[1453] Constantinople fell to Ottoman Turks

[1543] Copernicus died

[1588] English defeat of the Spanish Armada opens the way to English exploration and colonization

[1640-] English Civil War and the Scientific Revolution

[1689] England's Glorious Revolution and the origins of modern political theory

[1769] Beginning of the Industrial Revolution in England with Watt's steam engine

[1789-] French Revolution

[1800-1840] Industrial Revolution

[1871] Unification of Germany


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